Do you or your parents think that estate planning looks easy? If so, then you’re in the same boat as a lot of Kentuckians. But don’t let the perception of simpleness dupe you into thinking that you can forego formal estate planning or that you can successfully create the estate plan that you need on your own.
How do-it-yourself estate planning leaves you susceptible
There are a lot of online resources out there. A quick search can net you templates and self-help guides that may seem sufficient for your needs. But there are some very real risks of engaging in DIY estate planning. Here are just some of the dangers that you or your loved one may face if you try to create your own estate plan:
- Failure to abide by state law: The templates and guides that you use are probably going to be general in nature. As a result, they may not conform to state law. If that’s the case, then your entire estate plan may end up being void. This can create a messy probate process that may lead to familial infighting and an outcome that was never intended.
- Missed opportunities: Estate planning is a process that is wholly customizable to suit your needs. By going with a basic estate plan that you found online, you may be missing out on key opportunities to protect your assets and your loved ones. For example, you might fail to engage in proper Medicaid planning to protect your ability to secure long-term care, and you might miss out on the opportunity to utilize an incentive or a spendthrift trust to control when your assets are released to named beneficiaries.
- Changed circumstances aren’t taken into account: Although creating an estate plan can lift a burden off of your shoulders, this is an ongoing process that needs to be revisited from time-to-time. If you don’t, then the intended outcome of your plan may never be realized. For example, if you initially leave assets to a family member but later have a falling out, then your assets are going to go to someone you no longer want to support unless you modify your estate play. DIY guides and templates often fail to address these changes and usually don’t stress the importance of addressing them when they arise.
- Lack of thoroughness: Estate planning is about much more than just deciding who is going to inherit your assets. You might want to specify who is going to make important financial and medical decisions for you in the event that you’re unable to make those decisions on your own, and you may want to consider who will care for your children if you suddenly pass away. These are considerations that may be key to the holistic estate plan that you need, but they are issues that are often unaddressed in DIY estate plans.
Consider letting an estate attorney guide you through the process
If you’ve been considering DIY estate planning, then we commend you on being proactive in getting your affairs in order. But we also want you to make sure that you’re doing it right. Although you may be concerned about the costs associated with proper estate planning, the truth of the matter is that a deficient estate plan can end up leading to more costs than you ever imagined.
So, even if you’d simply like to learn more about the estate planning process, your planning options, and what you can do to best protect yourself, then please consider reaching out to a law firm that is highly experienced in this area of the law.